The grape known as pinot grigio in Italian, and pinot gris in French, gets a bad rap among fine wine lovers simply because it’s so easy to exploit for volume. But this grape shouldn’t be written off simply because there are oceans of fairly uninteresting examples out there. One sure-fire way to help even the most hidebound of wine snobs see the light on this point is to pour a glass of this extraordinary wine from Alsace in northern France. Its masterful interpretation of this maligned grape is both a revelation and a reminder that grape variety alone cannot sum up a wine’s quality potential. It is certainly true that most pinot grigio is made in the early-harvested style of northern Italy, where barely ripe grapes provide a lightweight summer wine with faint flavors of apples and pears. However, the tradition of the Alsace region is to let these grapes hang longer on the vine to develop more richness of texture and more forward flavors of juicier fruits, like apricot and cantaloupe. When such grapes are slowly coaxed through fermentation, the result is a wine with more heft and decadence of mouthfeel as well as more complexity and amplitude of flavor. Pinot gris can range widely in sugar content, but this stunning example has only a whisper of sweetness, just enough to flatter Asian-style cuisine.
Trimbach Pinot Gris "Réserve," Alsace, France. $19.99. (Regularly $21.99; sale price through April 1.) PLCB Item #8494.